Want to run Android apps on your PC? A new app called WindowsAndroid lets you do that, but basically running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on Windows as if it were a native Windows app.
Once WindowsAndroid is installed, you can use the web browser, gallery and other built-in apps, and with a little work you can even load and run additional third-party Android apps.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Android apps running on Windows computers. BlueStacks offers software that does something similar, and if you plug an FXI Cotton Candy any-screen PC into your computer, you can sort of use it to run Android apps on your PC screen.
But WindowsAndroid basically provides the full Android 4.0 experience on a Windows PC without any additional software or hardware. It includes the stock Android user interface, the Dalvik virtual machine which lets you run Android apps, and the ability to use your Windows PC hardware including your graphics card for hardware acceleration.
WindowsAndroid support computer with Windows Vista or later and supports most screen resolutions.
If you have a touchscreen device such as a Windows 8 tablet, you should be able to interact with Android apps using your fingers. But you can also use a keyboard and mouse to navigate.
WindowsAndroid is still under development, but you can request access to an early release build from the developer’s website.
The software’s a little buggy, and it crashed on me a few times while using it. But WindowsAndroid does exactly what it says on the tin, and lets you run Android on a Windows PC.
You can side-load apps by placing the APK files in the \SocketeQ\windowsandroid_root\data\app directory and then restarting the program — but I found that loading some apps in that directory caused WindowsAndroid to crash on startup.
You can also sort of install the Google Play Store by downloading the latest gApps package for Android 4.0, unzipping it, and copying the contents to the appropriate folders in \SocketeQ\windowsandroid_root\system. But the vast majority of Android apps in the Play Store will show up as incompatible with your device — and I had trouble getting any apps that are compatible to install properly.
In other words, WindowsAndroid is very much a work in progress. But when it works, it loads quickly, responds well to input, and lets you basically run Android apps on a Windows computer. It shows a lot of promise, but right now it’s more of a toy than a useful product.
It has a deeper meaning to Microsoft. They can create a proper Android VM on their Nokia mobile phone, then they suddenly remove a major barrier to entry for their touch screen mobile phone. How they control their own version go Google store is another matter, and copyright law suit, of course.
Too bad both Windows and Norton says that the installer is a virus !!!
What Google Store APK package version did you use? I have tried a few versions and they install but the Google store window never pops up and it just back to the Android desktop. I can see Google store app in the running programs settings. Thanks
This is very interesting, I can’t wait to try it out as I have a dual touch screen touchbook from Acer running WIndows 8!!
Which leads to a very good question. Android is running a modified Linux kernel under the Android specific layers. Those layers are themselves open source. So why, after years of Android on the rise, hasn’t there been a project to run Android apps on a Linux desktop?
The Linux kernel only provides core system services, Android consists of a whole OS and application runtime environment on top of that. See https://www.android-app-market.com/android-architecture.html
I’m well aware of the construction of both Android and Linux. But all that would be needed is to modify the display system to use the X11 supplied GLX and 2D framebuffer instead of directly writing to hardware. Same for input, read X events and deliver mouse clicks as touch events. And so on.
The larger problem would Android’s trick of creating a UID for each app but with the recent efforts at user namespaces it should be possible to allow each Linux user to have a zoo of virtual UIDs for their installed Android apps.
There are emulators for android on Linux. How well they work is another question. I’ve wondered myself why there is no true hybrid OS. With Ubuntu for phones coming out we may see just that, but I’m thinking it won’t be exactly what I’m thinking of. I think what we really need is just more developers working on these things.
How hard would it be to interface a ARM processor with a ordinary PC motherboard?
Since that would open up for the possibility of offloading ARM native software to to a dedicated ARM processor, and thus eliminating clunky emulation & sluggishness.
You don’t need an ARM processor anyway. There are Intel, AMD, and 3rd party x86 builds of Android that work pretty well, and generally include internal ARM emulation to handle native code apps but run more typical Dalvik applications on x86. Using these still means running in a VM under Windows, but you have the advantage gained from hardware assisted virtualization on machines that support it. The result may be even faster than running the code off in some sidecar ARM processor.
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